Accessible holiday tips
3 November 2017
We recently revealed that 80% of disabled people say they struggle when holidaying in the UK.
We asked holiday industry and disabled access expert, Srin Madipalli, for his advice on how to find accessible holidays. Srin has traveled all over the world and is CEO and founder of Accomable.
‘The findings from Leonard Cheshire Disability’s recent survey were disheartening — but unfortunately not surprising.
‘It’s a real shame so many disabled people reported negative experiences, because when holiday destinations do get accessibility right, the results are fantastic to see.’
Prepare prepare prepare
‘My motto for planning a great trip has always been "prepare, prepare, prepare". This might sound obvious, but before you book accommodation and any flights, it is worth checking out how accessible your holiday destination is first.
‘I often use disabled travel blogs and the friendly Facebook group, the Accessible Travel Club, to get tips on accessible destinations. Once I feel settled on a couple of destinations, I’m ready to check out transport and accommodation.
‘The main trick with accommodation is booking early. In August, when most holiday companies are gearing up for winter, accessible holidays are already seeing bookings flood in for the following summer. The reason? The most popular places go quickly, particularly in peak holiday times.
‘Most often you’ll only have to pay a deposit and you can wait until nearer the time to pay for your holiday in full. I find it also provides a fun distraction from the increasingly gloomy weather!’
Think about specific needs
‘The reason I founded Accomable is because specialist sites are so useful in helping to find accommodation to suit specific needs.
‘We provide filters for specific equipment that you might need, photos of the accessible features that are claimed and also ensure the booking of the correct room at a hotel as an "accessible room" can have a bath tub with grab rails or a roll-in shower.
‘If it’s not possible for you to use such a site for your holiday planning, a good idea is to ask any accommodation provider you’re thinking of booking with to send you photographic proof of their accessibility.
‘You should also chat with them until you’re confident the right facilities are in place and ask for written confirmation of this.’
Plan your transport
‘Then there’s transport. I’m currently working on a project with EuTravel to find ways to make researching and booking accessible transport across the EU easy.
‘For now, if you’re planning on hiring a wheelchair accessible vehicle or booking a WAV taxi, it’s worth checking on costs and availability first, as these can vary depending on the country.
‘Again, ask around if anyone has any tips – I’ve found prices can vary quite a bit, particularly with accessible taxis. If you’re heading to a big city, it’s also worth checking out if UberWAV is available, as this can prove very cost effective.
‘Public transport can often be a good option for getting around, though it pays to do research into whether buses or trains are better for access. Information can often be a little sketchy, so again try and dip into the ‘hive mind’ and ask online for recommendations.’
Get travel insurance
‘Something I hear time and time again is that finding the right travel insurance is one of the biggest sources of worry for disabled travelers, particularly if they’re travelling abroad with expensive and specialist mobility equipment. My advice is to ask around for recommendations and to use a specialist insurance provider whenever possible.
‘Companies that specialise in insurance for those with disabilities and medical conditions should have more carefully calculated any risks when travelling, which should mean you get a better price.
‘You’ll still need to read through the policy carefully to double check things like the level of equipment cover. And always be completely open about any pre-existing medical conditions upfront to ensure your cover is valid.’
‘My final piece of advice is to stay optimistic. Leonard Cheshire’s research identified some really negative experiences and I know that poor customer service in relation to disability can leave you feeling particularly frustrated.
‘However, I also hear from many disabled people how thrilled they are when they find an accessible holiday that works.
‘I hope the tips I’ve shared here will help make it a lot for easier for disabled people wanting to take a trip have a really relaxing and fun experience.’
Accomable is a booking platform for accessible hotel rooms and holiday accommodation with more than 1,100 adapted properties in over 60 countries worldwide.